Jordan Taylor can always remember the year that The Salvation Army brought Christmas.
He can’t remember specifically what toys he received, it was a long time ago now, but he’ll never forget the joy and relief of his mother. Times were tough but Christmas had been taken care of.
“It’s always just been just me and mum, haven’t really had a dad around,” Jordan says as he describes the childhood of a boy who had to grow up fast. “It was, really, really hard, tough.
“At the same time, I couldn’t really let it have much of a toll on me. I had to be strong, I always had to be supportive even though I was just a child. I was always there for mum, saying it was OK, giving her a cuddle when she needed.” Food vouchers from the Salvos often put food on his family’s table.
Today, 29-year-old Jordan is a regular volunteer at the Wynnum Salvos Store in Brisbane, part of The Salvation Army’s network of more than 100 modern charity stores across NSW, ACT and QLD that provide quality affordable goods and clothing.
He loves being able to help the organisation that helped him and his mother all those years ago.
“Because I’m receiving Centrelink benefits, I had to start doing work-for-the-dole somewhere but when it came to choosing a place I just felt that the Salvos was a good choice because I wanted to ‘give back’ to the community.”
Volunteers are the life-blood of the Salvos Stores network, enabling more of the stores’ profits to go directly into the social work of The Salvation Army, to help other families like Jordan’s. But apart from what they give in time, skills and energy, many volunteers say the benefits are far greater. Jordan himself says he’s changed for the better since he joined the Wynnum Salvos Stores team 10 months ago.
“Before I came to this place I was a little bit more, ‘in my own shell’ and not so outgoing,” he says. “I have sort of been, like, all over the place through my life, I haven’t been grounded or had much structure really… That’s another way this place has helped, it’s made me feel like I’m important you know? Like [I’m] part of something, doing something constructive.”
He recently took part in a fashion parade at Wynnum Salvation Army to raise money for the organisation. Modelling is something he has always wanted to try but had never had the courage or opportunity. “I feel a lot more confident,” he says.
“I helped raise quite a few dollars for a good cause. It ended up being really good, it was really fun!”
This Christmas, Jordan and his mother will spend a quiet day together, enjoying each other’s company. Things aren’t as tough as they used to be, and Jordan’s hopeful of a brighter future.
“I’ve wasted a lot of my past and now I feel like I’m making up for it,” he says. “I just want to be as best of a person as I can, so I can help my mother.”
Written by Lauren Martin